Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was asked Friday morning if he feels like his team made a statement on behalf of the Big 12 Conference with Thursday's 45-31 Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.
“I'll let you guys determine that,” Stoops said. “I've watched Alabama run roughshod over the SEC for the last few years, and we didn't look overwhelmed,” Stoops said. “I've also watched Missouri and A&M the last year or two; they didn't look overwhelmed. They've been in the Big 12 for 100 years, and they've been there for two years, and they look like they match up pretty well.
“Enough of that talk. It's nonsense.”
Stoops was widely criticized last summer, when he questioned the Southeastern Conference's dominance of college football, calling it “propaganada that gets fed to you.”
SEVERAL SOONER ALUMS RETURN
Lots of former Stoops-era Oklahoma football greats were in the Superdome for Thursday night's Sugar Bowl, including Adrian Peterson, Trent Williams, Jammal Brown and Davin Joseph.
After the game, a group of those players stood outside the Sooners' locker room as Stoops walked by and asked why they weren't inside.
“They said, ‘Oh, we didn't want to ...' but I said, ‘Go in. I love my guys to see you, be around you,'” Stoops said.
“I really always think it's important that our players see these guys around. Not just Adrian, all of them. They know that all these guys have played here and what they're doing now, and they're quality guys, too. All those guys are great people.”
SANCHEZ IMPROVES THROUGHOUT GAME
OU cornerback Zack Sanchez struggled early in the Sugar Bowl, as Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron picked on the redshirt freshman, who missed some tackles and was beaten in coverage.
With about two minutes left in the first half, though, Sanchez intercepted a McCarron pass and returned it 43 yards to the Alabama 13-yard line, setting up a touchdown that put OU up by 14.
“I think as much as anything his tackling hurt us,” Stoops said. “But then he stayed with it. We got pressure and McCarron threw a ball he shouldn't have thrown. He was able to jump it and have a huge return.
“As a DB, you can't have a long memory. … Over an 80-play game and you're out there alone, you're gonna give up a play or two. You've got to get your one or two, your third down stop or your pick or whatever to change it. And he did it.”
MAKESHIFT OFFENSIVE LINE STANDS UP TO BAMA
Because of injuries to starting left guard Adam Shead and left tackle Tyrus Thompson, Oklahoma was forced to make some changes to its offensive line before the Sugar Bowl.
Junior Dionte Savage, in his first year at Oklahoma, made his first career start against Alabama, right tackle Daryl Williams moved to the left side and guard Bronson Irwin started at right tackle.
“Bronson is a good player,” Stoops said. “He's always worked (at tackle) a little bit. He's done a great job being able to handle that.
“I tell you, it's not easy going to play left tackle like Daryl has. You think it doesn't matter going right to left, but it does. He's been awesome with it.”
Stoops said Williams, a junior, was initially reluctant to make the move but has flourished in it.
NO UNDERCLASSMEN EXPECTED TO BOLT
Stoops implied a few weeks ago that some underclassmen had filed paperwork to be evaluated for the 2014 NFL Draft, which was surprising considering none of the Sooners' eligible juniors and redshirt sophomores seemed at all ready for that jump.
Last season, safety Tony Jefferson, receiver Kenny Stills and linebacker Tom Wort left early for the draft. Jefferson and Wort both went undrafted.
“I don't think we have anyone in position where that would be the right thing to do … hopefully nobody makes a foolish decision,” Stoops said Friday morning.